A New Age of the White House Correspondents Dinner


Photo courtesy of Business Insider

Hasan Minhaj speaking at the White House Correspondents Dinner

The White House Correspondents Association was founded after Woodrow Wilson, much like our current president, threatened to stop press conferences because of his negative portrayal by the media. Shortly after, the White House Correspondents Dinner began, celebrating journalism and the First Amendment. This year, the event paralleled the environment that created the need for the association in the first place. For the first time, there were three important events that occurred on April 29 including the White House Correspondents Dinner, the Not The White House Correspondents Dinner, and Trump’s rally in Pennsylvania to mark the 100th day of his presidency. While the Not The Correspondents Dinner claimed to be the anti-correspondents dinner, it reflected the same ideals that the freedom of speech needs to be protected while raising $200,000 for the Committee to Protect Journalists. In opposition, Trump bashed the media and the correspondents dinner during his rally.

“Their priorities are not my priorities, and not your priorities,” Trump said during his Pennsylvania rally. “If the media’s job is to be honest and tell the truth, the media deserves a very, very big fat failing grade.”

This increasingly noticeable divide between the media and the presidential administration has many worried about the survival of the fourth estate. Because of the current atmosphere in the United States, many people viewed both the Correspondents Dinner and the Not The Correspondents Dinner as increasingly important this year. The Not The Correspondents Dinner, hosted by Samantha Bee, was filled with jokes, skits, and a guest appearance from Will Ferrell dressed as George W. Bush. The Correspondents Dinner was hosted by Hasan Minhaj who spent the time poking fun at the presidential administration, the news outlets, and stressing the importance of preserving the truth and making as little errors as possible. In many segments he equated being a journalist at this time to being an immigrant.

“You gotta be twice as good,” Minhaj said during the Correspondents Dinner. “You can’t make any mistakes. Because when one of you messes up, he blames your entire group. And now you know what it feels like to be a minority.”

Since the president decided not to attend, the other portion of the event was filled with a speech from Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the journalists who uncovered the Watergate Scandal. They discussed the importance of getting to the truth and how journalists should act carefully during this time.

“Almost inevitably, government secrecy is the enemy,” Bernstein said. “It’s usually the giveaway about what the real story might be. And when lies deny the secrecy, there is usually a pretty good roadmap in front of us. Yes, follow the money, but follow also the lies.”

According to Gallup, 32% of Americans say they have “a great deal” or “fair amount” of trust in the media. This record low level of confidence is very dangerous to the preservation of facts and balance in the U.S.. The less people trust the media, the more divided and uniformed America becomes. It is now up to journalists to gain back the confidence of the American public.

“Mr. President, the media is not fake news,” Woodward said during the Correspondents Dinner.